Boeing Co.’s newly named CEO officially took over the controls today at the crisis stricken company.
Former Boeing Chairman of the Board David Calhoun was picked in December to replace CEO Dennis Muilenburg.
Calhoun, former head of General Electric’s aviation division, took over at Boeing today, only days after the release of another round of recordings of Boeing employees admitting safety concerns about the Boeing 737 MAX.
A newly engineered airplane, the 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019, after two of the new airplanes crashed within five months, killing a total of 346 people.
Calhoun, 62, was named chairman two months ago and has been on the Boeing board for over a decade.
Problems in the automatic flight control system that came with the 737 MAX’s new engines were at the heart of the crash, but the company was slow to admit the problem and said a fix was coming soon. A series of delays has led to a crescendo of leaks of insider information suggesting the plane was launched too soon.
Pressure to get the 737 MAX in the air came in the form of sales from a competing product made by Airbus. In 2016, Airbus got an edge on Boeing with the first commercial flights of the A320neo, a re-engineered version of the A320, which competes with the Boeing 737. More efficient engines were a chief feature of the A320neo.
Boeing first had plans for a completely new airplane that would leapfrog the A320neo with its own array of efficiencies. But, faced with immediate sales erosion, Boeing decided to get a competing product on the market earlier by re-engineering the 737, resulting in the 737 MAX.
General Electric helped steer Boeing to its new strategy. According to Reuters, GE “had a draft engine deal in place even before Boeing officially changed position, two people familiar with the talks said.”